Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Miley They Just Aren't Into You

One of my homeroom girls showed up today sporting a new "Miley Cyrus"-style haircut.  She's a bit of a rebel and trying to be a bit of a trend-setter, so it wasn't that surprising.

What was surprising was the response from the rest of the kids.

They HATED it.  Absolutely hated it.  Choruses of "Oh My God, what did you do?" along with "Are you trying to look like Miley, she's so gross," were some of the nicer comments.  It got so bad I told them to hush and if they didn't have anything nice to say then just to keep quiet.  Haircut girl didn't seem to mind (she's a bit of snot anyway and can dish out as much as she gets) but I wasn't going to put up with that nonsense.

However, one of the kids said they thought that Haircut girl actually looked kind of cute in that haircut, which was surprising because "Miley is such an ugly dog but you look cute in it."  Choruses of agreement abounded. It was then that I decided to do an impromptu survey.

"How many of you like Miley Cyrus?" I asked.  Not a hand went up.  Not one.

"How many of you can't stand her?" was my second question.  Every hand went up.

"So how come you don't like her?" I asked them and was hit with a bunch of comments regarding her acting slutty, sticking her tongue out, trying to act cool but really coming off as pathetic (a word I was impressed this bunch used) and so on.  A few admitted that her behavior rather "grossed me out".  So, if my homeroom is any indication, she's really falling flat with the 12-14 year old demographic.

Which is surprising, because the media has you think she's quite popular with this group.  Perhaps they think she is.  However, a few minutes with my homeroom kids will let you know that she's definitely not.

You learn something new every day.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Assault With a - Potentially - Deadly Weapon

Honestly, people who don't work in a school have no idea as to the absolutely crazy shit that goes on with these kids during the day.  Seriously.

For example, this week we had three sixth grade boys decide to pee on each other.  Really.  You cannot make this stuff up.  Of course, that irritated one of the victims, who promptly threw a punch towards the kid peeing on him.  Which is completely understandable. 

(I checked.  None of these were my kids.  Thank God.)

I guess it was apparently quite hysterical to watch these three boys explain to four grown men, our SRO, The Enforcer, and two coaches, what, exactly prompted them to act like such idiots.

The SRO explained to them that he could charge them with assault because they could unknowingly infect another person with a horrifying and deadly disease by peeing on them.  This did, apparently, finally get their attention.

The only question remaining, said the SRO, was whether we charge them with a weapon over, or under three inches.

*The three inch measure is what our law uses to guide the punishment for a knife at school.

First Snow Day!

Well, more like a ice day.  I'm on my third cup of coffee watching the ice build up on my deck and trees in my yard.

Hoping we don't lose power.

Fortunately they called for the schools to be closed last night, rather than wait until morning, which was nice of them.  Those of us who grace the school hallways at oh-dark-thirty every day often have the unpleasant experience of actually already being at school before they cancel for the day.  That sucks.

So I have a full tank of gas in my car, the cell phone is on the charger, the Kindle is charged, the heater is running to warm up the house, and I'm ready if we lose power.

At least I know how to make coffee on a grill, if it comes to that.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Buzz Worthy Lunch

A few weeks ago, on a surprisingly cold day, the rest if the seventh grade teachers and I were in the teacher lunchroom (right next to the cafeteria) enjoying our all too brief 30 minute duty free lunch.  It was a typical lunch until the double door slammed open and in ran Mrs. Cheerful, one of our aides who has the horrid duty of helping with seventh grade lunch.  

"I need an administrator here fast!" She shrieked as she dialed the front office.  Now that the door was open we could hear a huge commotion coming from the cafeteria.  That usually signals a fight, so within a flash, all of us in the middle of our lunch ran into the lunchroom to restore order and break up what sounded like a doozy of a brawl.

Except when we got there, we didn't see any kids fighting.  

What we did see were a number of kids screaming and running up and down the aisles between the tables, and other kids throwing food into the air.  They weren't throwing the food at other tables of kids but rather up into the air.  This was weird.  They usually aim at other kids when they start flinging food.

I happened to be standing by The Monitor (the other adult in there trying to keep 300 kids fed and in control every lunch period) and heard her say "I can't believe all this over a wasp."

A wasp?  Yes, a wasp.

It took a moment but I finally saw the wasp buzzing around one of the tables which was sending the girls, and some boys, into fits.  Some of the boys were throwing food at it, which only made the wasp madder and caused him to buzz and dive bomb the tables.  Which caused more hysteria.

Good gracious, this generation needs to get outside more so they can learn to deal with things like insects without going into hysterics. 

We finally got them calmed down, sat them back in their seats, and convinced them that throwing things at wasps doesn't improve their mood.  At all.  Honestly, I felt sorry for the wasp at this point.

What's really weird is that the wasps have had a nest somewhere near the cafeteria for several weeks now, and that wasps have been showing up at lunch all that time.  However, apparently both the 8th grade and the 6th grade kids don't lose their minds when they see a wasp.  Just the 7th grade kids do.

Which tells you a lot about the character traits of seventh graders.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bad Blogger

Yeah well I'm not being very consistent here.  Sorry about that.  I'm not sure what it is, but none of us seem to have the spare time we did in years past.

Enough apologies.

So a few weeks ago the Guidance Guy sent out an email about these cushions they had purchased that were supposed to help kids, particularly those with ADHD, focus.  They are made of plastic, somewhat semi-inflated, with teeth on the side you place on the chair.  Basically you give them to a kid, they use it on their seat, and they focus more.  I actually tried it myself and it is nearly impossible to slouch with this thing on your chair.  You do have to wiggle a tiny bit all the time to stay somewhat balanced, and you tend to lean forward.  

Well I have some real live wire kids this year so I thought is give it a try.  Guidance was basically looking for some so us to try these and get data on the kids to see if there was any change in behavior and academics.  I sent an email but was rebuffed at first as they wanted to give them to team leaders first and have them used through a team so they could follow a kid throughout the day.  Since I'm teaching two grades this year, I'm not tied to a team (which has its pluses and minuses.)

Except very few team leaders seemed interested.

So lucky me got one of these cushions to use and see how they work.

I basically picked one kid in each class and told them that we were doing an experiment to see if these cushions helped them concentrate more.  What I wasn't counting on was that all the kids decided that they wanted to be the "tester" so I'm having to rotate each week.  

But here is the amazing thing.  These things work like a charm.

Honestly after the first day I was bowled over by these things.  Kids who never stayed in their seats are sitting down and working.  They aren't tapping pencils.  They aren't digging through their papers and fiddling.  They are WORKING.  It is just amazing.  I talked with the few other teachers that were trying these and they had the same results.

I want a class set now.

P.S.  Someone asked for a picture, so here's the link to Amazon that our guidance sent us.

Magic Seat Cushions

Be sure to read some of the comments from readers who also had experiences with these.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Watching Their Heads Explode

Okay. I know I said I would be posting more but this is turning into One Hell of a Year.  Used to be you could count on one hand the number of teachers who were at school an hour early and who left after five.  Now it's the bulk of us.  It's all about bringing up the test scores and revamping just about everything we do.

Mrs. Eagle, Mrs, Angora and I are basically ripping apart our curriculum and rebuilding it to make it more rigorous and to raise expectations.  However, it takes a lot of time to do that.  Friday evenings we're lucky if we leave by eight.  At least we enjoy working with each other.

However today I had a great deal of fun at my students' expense.  For several years I have done a weekly email to parents, usually on Friday afternoon, where I list what we are doing in the week ahead. It works out pretty well except when things change.  And I have noticed this year that we are making more adjustments to our plans than usual.  So I needed an alternative.

One of our new teachers told me about a website called www.remind101.com that sends out text alerts.  It protects both the teacher and the students' privacy, you can schedule the alerts for when you want them to go out, and they can even be sent via email if so desired.  I was hooked.  (No, I don't work for them.)

I sent out the notice in my parent email on Friday, and then today I sent home the sign up information for parents and kids to sign up.  However, I wanted as many kids signed up as possible so I blew their minds when I told them to get out their phones, turn them on, and subscribe to the text alerts.

I swear you should have heard the gasps in the room.  

"Is this a trick?  Are we going to get in trouble?" And so on.  They were completely freaked out.

I loved it.  

They finally figured out that this was indeed a legitimate request and slowly the phones came out, were clicked on, and then they started to sign up.

The selling point?  It wasn't getting notices about tests or homework.  Oh no.  It was me telling them that I would text them the night before if they needed their book in class or not.

Anything to keep from carrying their book.  Wimps.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Things I Learned This Week

When teaching two different grade levels, DO NOT plan a lab activity for both grade levels on the same day.

Why didn't I realize I did this?

It's September and We're Already Exhausted

Oh my.

I really intended to blog a lot more this year, but there just hasn't been the time.  I'm getting to school at 6:00 and leaving some nights at 7:00, so it's been a matter of eating, grading, and passing out in bed.


Scores weren't high enough school wide so we're having to revamp lessons.  We're also being told to take more class grades and more homework grades.  We're having to take a lot of looks at a lot of data to figure out what to do with our kids to - you got it - raise test scores.  All in all, it means a lot of time spent outside of the actual teaching.

On the good side, at least Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora and I have a lot of fun together.  Fridays are turning into "Friday Planning Parties" where we bring snacks and work together in Mrs. Angora's room, with a few other teachers, mostly 8th grade teachers as they're down the hall, joining us.  It's a great way to kick around strategies and come up with some good ideas.  And it's fun, although perhaps fattening.

I am hoping that things settle down soon...in the meantime, some highlights.

The Bully Parent showed up for an IEP meeting and was somewhat pleasant and really nice to me since I sent her a post card about how organized her daughter's locker was.  She is now out of my class (still in homeroom) and moved to inclusion science so I don't have to deal with her academically.  I suspect she's one of those people who hide behind the keyboard.

Open House was fun.  Met a lot of parents but the best part is seeing kids I used to have.  One is a senior and looking to go to the Air Force Academy.  Another is a junior and is going to major in chemical engineering.  The fact that he squeaked by 7th grade and DROVE US CRAZY with his behavior, makes this turnaround all the sweeter.  He's a tall, delightful young man and gave me the biggest hug.  It's nice to see a kid who drove you nuts come back and tell you that they did listen - a little - and are going to turn out okay.
I spent the Labor Day weekend working on lessons and grading papers but hubby and I did take a day trip to Paducah, Kentucky to the American Quilt Museum to see an exhibit on Civil War quilts.  Awesome display but the best part was hanging with my guy.

Knitting and Crochet club starts tomorrow.  I haven't had time to knit since school starts so this may be the only chance I get.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

When the Parent is the Bully

So a bunch of us got what has to be the most vile, hateful, and vitriolic email I have ever received in eleven years at The School.

It was five single-spaced pages of threats and condemnations and was just mind-blowing. It basically was the parents demands on how we were to teach her child.   This is the sort of email you'd expect halfway through the year when a kid has been expelled and has had a long history of issues.  Not something you expect the Third Freaking Day from a kid that you haven't had a lick of trouble from.

Makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.  (Actually makes me feel sorry for the kid.)

God bless The Principal.  She called us into a meeting after school and said that we were not to have any personal one-on-one contact with this parent.  She was going to run interference.  Thank goodness.

It's one thing to deal with bullies at school, who are kids, but another dealing with a bully who's actually a parent.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Things They Didn't Warn Me About

Having never taught sixth grade before, about the only thing I really know about sixth graders is that they're shorter, for the most part, than my seventh graders.

I figured they were a little more immature, a little more sweet, and a little more nervous than the jaded bunch of seventh graders I see every year.

Are they ever different.

Since we're doing electronic attendance every period this year - sigh - the first thing we do when class starts is attendance.  And of course, since we don't know each other, this involves saying "here" and raising their hands so I can physically see them when I call their name. I do a big production out of asking them to raise their hand high - "be proud of your name!" - when I call so I can actually see it.

Seventh graders, for the most part, sort of mumble, if they answer at all, and then you're lucky to get a hand that's higher than shoulder height.  It's like they can't be bothered to put forth the effort. Half the time I have to call a name several times before I can determine that the kid, really and truly, is sitting in my room.

Sixth graders, on the other hand, are like a bunch of perky little cheerleaders - boys and girls alike - popping those hands up towards the ceiling and chirping "here!" with so much enthusiasm that I'm almost overwhelmed.  Attendance with these kids is a breeze.

However, the one thing that no one warned me about, and which really surprised me is that sixth graders apparently feel the need to hug you goodbye when you dismiss class.  I thought maybe after my very brief second period (my first bunch of sixies) that it was just that particular group of kids.  I dismissed them and about half a dozen of them, boys and girls alike, came over to give me a hug and go on their way.  Nothing intense, just little shoulder hugs and off they went.  Okay, that was weird.  But then my seventh period sixies did the same thing!

What the heck?

I mentioned this to The Principal and she started laughing.  "Oh, they do that!  You'll just have to get used to it.  They think you're their school mamma and since you teach science, they also think you're a rock star!"  (I didn't pursue that last comment...)

So, perhaps I'm liking my schedule better than I thought.  I sort of wanted my sixth grade classes closer together in the day (preferably back to back) because of lab preps and the like.  However, starting the day with sweet nice kids and ending the day with sweet nice kids, isn't a bad way to go.

I just wish it wasn't such a tongue twister.  Saying "I teach sixth, second and seventh," is a bit of a challenge.

Week One Down...

The first day and a half of school went pretty well.

I don't know why, except it's the way it's always been done, but we always have a half day on the first day of school which we spend entirely with our homeroom.  Then we have a day off for staff development and planning.  Then we have a full day with all our classes.  That day off in there is a little wonky, but we do put it to good use.  It just seems weird.

In any case, the first half day is the "here is all the paperwork your poor parents needs to fill out, sign, return" day, plus rules, policies, blah, blah, blah, blah.  It's really quite boring, not only for the kids, but for us.  As the principal says, the important thing is they feel comfortable in a home room and they know how they are getting home.  This year I only had one kid who didn't know his bus number, but Guidance solved that rather quickly.  That's pretty good.  I had one kid one year who didn't know his address, phone or bus number (he had landed here the week before from Florida.)

My homeroom kids, all 24 of them (a significant drop from the 30 I had last year) are mostly special ed and lower achieving kids.  Out of the 24 of them, I teach 4 of them science.  The rest go to inclusion science with Mrs. Eagle and Mrs. Angora.  I guess because I'm teaching two grades I didn't get an inclusion class. So that's a bit weird.  I see these kids in the morning, then see them in the afternoon, and that's it.  No academic contact with them.

On Friday, the first full day, it got a little crazy.  The first three full days we spend a two hour block with our homerooms in the mornings doing training of some sort.  My homeroom is seventh grade so on Friday it was there turn to go to the gym or the theater and hear "The Talk" by the administrators.  Mr. Enforcer talks with the boys, and Mrs. Sparrow talks with the girls.  They go over discipline, dress code, cell phones, bullying, sexual harassment, etc.  On Monday we'll get our books and lockers.  On Tuesday we'll do our School Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) training.  Then on Wednesday, it's normal schedule, normal day.

So, that two hour block in the morning means about a 30 minute class for the remaining periods.  Which is barely enough to do attendance, introduce yourself, hand them the science lab rules that need to be signed and returned, and go over expectations.  We're doing electronic attendance every period this year instead of just in the morning, and that's taking a lot longer than I thought it would.  Once I know everyone's names, it should go easier.

Unfortunately, on these weird schedule days lunch just seems to throw a monkey wrench into everything.  The sixth grade went down to lunch early for a bit of an orientation (apparently there are a lot more choices for lunch in middle school which kind of overwhelms the kids).  However, going early didn't help as it took an extra 15 minutes for the kids to get through the line.  Which left me with about 5 minutes to introduce myself to my 2nd period class of sixth graders.   From that point on, everything was running quite a bit behind until about 5th period when things calmed down and the lunch was over.  Let's hope that it works out better on Monday.

So here it is, Saturday, and the building was open and quite a few of us were in there working.  Mrs. Eagle and I had some data drilling to do, plus copying, plus just catching up on stuff so we got in there early and did about 5 hours.  I don't feel so bad about missing a Saturday since it rained all morning and is hot and muggy today.  I just don't want to make a habit of it as we all need a mental break on the weekends.

So, one week is done.  So far, so good.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Mamma Bear...Hug

On Monday I participated, for the first time, in the annual Parent Night we have for sixth graders and their parents.  Basically the parents come with their kids, pick up schedules, listen to The Principal welcome them and their darlings, then go to either the gym, the theater, or the cafeteria to see a presentation by their team of teachers.  After that, they're turned loose to follow the schedule and try to locate their classrooms and meet their teachers.  This evening started a few years ago as a way to avoid having the parents follow their children around on the first day of school which apparently was an issue.  (I had no idea.  By the time a kid gets to the seventh grade, it's hard to even find a parent.)

Considering that I'm an "overflow" teacher, I'm not exactly tied to a team.  So I really felt like the fifth wheel. The Principal wanted those of us who were overflow teachers to sort of pop in and out of the team presentations.  She did inform the parents that due to the numbers, that there were going to be teachers that were not on teams teaching their children.  Hopefully the parents figured out that's who we were when we dropped in since only one of the teams was nice enough to introduce us.

Back in my room it was kind of amusing.  I only have two classes of sixth grade, so that's only 48 kids (as of today), so I wasn't swamped with parents and kids.  I spent a lot of time giving directions to classrooms because guidance had the wrong room numbers on most of the schedules.  Basically, anyone who changed classrooms last year (which was over half of us) had a wrong room number.  Big screw up.  However, it eventually worked its way out and everyone, hopefully, found their way around.

I did have a rather bizarre, but funny experience with a parent which I completely didn't expect.  She showed up in my room with a teenager with dark, dark hair and her little one.  She went on and on about how I was her favorite teacher - which would have been impossible, considering her age.  Her older daughter stepped in and mentioned that she had been my student, not her mom.  I did not recognize her at all and asked her name.  When she told me, I was surprised to say the least.  What I had in seventh grade was a quiet little blond with big round glasses.  What was in front of me was tall, skinny, with no glasses and dark hair!  Amazing how they change!  Mom, meanwhile, gushed some more, picked me up in a big bear hug and then they went on their way.

That, my friends, is a fairly positive way to start the year, don't ya think?

Saturday, August 03, 2013


This new school year is going to be very different than many of my past school years.

I have taught 7th grade for ten years - hard to believe its been that long - and this year I will still be teaching 7th grade.  But I'll have two classes of 6th graders as well.  Our enrollment is just jumping (we've added nearly 300 kids in 3 years) and there are so many 6th graders coming in that The Principal had to add an extra "overflow" teacher.  So, I'll have two 6th grade classes and three 7th grade classes.   I'm considered a 7th grade teacher (The Principal has me work with the 7th grade team at all staff things) and "just helping out" the sixth grade for the year (or two.)  I am cool with this.

I am also cool with the fact that my class sizes are a lot more manageable than last year.  I averaged 154 kids last year which comes to about 32 per class.  This year I'm up to 125 which is about 25 per class.  A huge difference.

I may decide I like 6th grade better.  Who knows?  What I do know is that the 6th grade teachers are not a tight-group like the 7th grade teachers are, so that may be interesting.  I like the way the 7th grade teachers act like a family.

The good part about all this is that after seven years I am no longer a team leader because I am no longer on any one team - I get the "overflow" kids.  Considering I was going to ask The Principal if someone else could have the pleasure of being team leader, I am more than thrilled at this.  Having less responsibility suits me fine, especially after the year I had last year with dealing with being the executrix of my Father's estate.  (That's still going on, btw, and I hope to have most of it done by December.)

I also am in a different room which is bigger than the tiny room I have had for eight years and that's a good thing.  The only real drawback I've found so far is that it is still in the older part of the building and is a little short on electrical outlets so I have 3 extension cords running along the walls which is par for the course in this part of the building.  Especially considering the geniuses who installed all the technology stuff a few years ago didn't put any of that near an outlet which makes it impossible to get power to the technology (doc reader, computer, etc.) without an extension cord.

So, it should be an interesting year.

Summer Ends with Sweet Corn

Mrs. Eagle and I took a little road trip up North last weekend, to visit a good friend of mine, to see her adorable MIL, and so I could do a little talk for a historical group up there.  The fact that people will actually pay me to drive up and talk about the Civil War is a plus - it helps pay, somewhat, for the girls' weekend.

One of the other reasons we went up there was because there is nothing - nothing! - like Ohio sweet corn.  Even the sweet corn down here in My Beloved South does not measure up and I buy from the Amish so you can bet I'm buying from people who know how to grow corn.  Northern sweet corn is just the best.

Mrs. Eagle's little adorable MIL called ahead and placed an order for us with the local grower as he tends to sell out every day and we had five bushels of sweet corn waiting for us on Monday morning.  We sort of thought it would be in those cute bushel baskets, but it was in these huge green woven bags.  Thought was probably a good thing.  We put them in big plastic bags, put some bags of ice in with them, and tossed them in the back of her CRV for the nine hour drive home.

I had ordered 5 dozen ears of corn because, after all, it's just me and Mr. Bluebird to eat it.  However, this grower, being a nice guy, throws in two extra ears for every dozen, so I ended up with 70 ears of corn.

That's a lot of corn.

I spent the better part of a day shucking it, boiling it, letting it cool, then cutting it off the cob, and then packing it into freezer bags.  (My vacuum sealer is probably one of my most useful kitchen devices.)  I ended up with 16 bags of corn which is just about the right amount.

And I saved a few just to eat with supper for the next week.  Mr. Bluebird, swooned.  I swooned.  It was awesome.

However, as much as I love sweet corn it does pretty much signal the end of summer for us.  School starts on Wednesday, August 6, and we report on Monday, August 5th.

Time to savor summer and the sweet corn.

Monday, July 08, 2013

In Service. Yay.

I have three days of in-service starting tomorrow.

So not looking forward to it.  It better be interesting or I'll be in day dream land.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What Has Happened to the Dixon Ticonderoga Pencils?

My gosh.

What is the world coming to?

Crappy pencils aggravate the daylights out of me.  I get tired of kids churning away at the pencil sharpener until they've eaten away at least half a pencil in order to get a decent, sharp point.  Makes me nuts.  A lot of the "cutsey" pencils (and gosh, I'm so done with cute) are absolute junk, made out of recycled paper and wood and won't even last a day.  They are useless.

So, for years, I've bought Dixon Ticonderoga pencils for my students to use on The Very Big Government Mandated Tests, and for Other Important Things that require a #2 pencil.  (For birthdays I give out mechanical pencils although most teachers, as a rule, don't like middle school kids having them - kids have been known to use them to fire straightened out staples at each other with them.)

This year I came to the dreadful conclusion that the Dixon Ticonderoga pencils have obviously changed something because they are, sad to say, just about as crappy as all the rest.

I brought home a big box from school to use in my summer camp and my suspicions were confirmed. They aren't what they used to be.  I would sharpen to a point, only to have a piece of lead you can pull out of the pencil.  Back to the sharpener.  Again, when it was sharpened, all you had to do was tug on the lead and out it would come.  You can even tell when the lead is like this as it seems to almost "bulge" slightly at the point where the lead and wood should connect.

I ended up throwing away about half a dozen pencils.

This is ridiculous.

Whomever changed things over at Dixon, do something!  You've screwed up the best pencil ever.  Now it's just junk, like all the rest.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Now the Relaxing (well, sorta) Begins

Today is the first day since school let out that I completely free.  Nowhere I need to go and nothing in particular I need to do.

I am enjoying every single second.

I went to visit my  mother for two weeks immediately after school was out, came back, did a week of in-services, then a week of summer camp, and this week I have....nothing.

Well, let me rephrase that...nothing with a particular time schedule.

I need to paint my porch and my back deck.  I need to do some serious yard work.  I need to finish up working on my Dad's estate.  That includes going through boxes, sorting, shipping off mementos to relatives, and trying to get the whole thing finished.  I need to really deep clean my house.

And I need to get caught up on my sleep.

Because, dear friend, school starts in five weeks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Called "Camp" for a Reason

I'm spending a week this summer conducting a Civil War Summer Camp for my City's Parks and Recreation Department.  I used to teach a Civil War class at a gifted camp Up North, and always wanted to recreate it for all kids, not just gifted, down here in My Beloved South.  Fortunately, we have a wonderful Civil War park and interpretive center, that's relatively new, and the Powers That Be, asked if I'd put on this camp for them.  (I know the Powers That Be because Mr. Bluebird and I actually worked as historians when developing the museum.)

Well, sure I would.

So, I have a dozen 10 to 11 year old boys (no girls, which is weird because all my classes before were a fairly even mix) this week for a camp that runs in the morning.  The site does not have a classroom, however, so we're meeting outside.  We have the real fort on one side, a view of the river on the other, and we're on a concrete patio that surrounds the building.  We're also under two large canopy tents for protection from the sun.  Water and restrooms are just steps away inside the visitor's center.

Honestly, I've never taught in such a beautiful site.

Apparently the grandmother of one of the boys has taken exception to this.  The manager of the park, who is a wonderful man, told me he got a call complaining that her grandson was spending four hours in the morning - gasp! - OUTSIDE.


Apparently she'd rather have him inside in air conditioned comfort playing video games.

I think one of the biggest problems I see with my students is that they aren't outside enough.  They're soft, and lazy and complain about the slightest bit of discomfort.  They need to get out and burn off some of their normal kid energy - that's a much better solution that slapping a pill down their throat because they're a little hyper.

My husband calls it the "pussification" of our kids.  He's right.

Funny, but the kids aren't complaining too much (it was hotter than blazes on Monday).  They're running around, learning to be a Civil War soldier.  And so far, they're having a blast.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Think I'm Coming Back

If any of my regular reader(s) are out there, you know that I took a hiatus from blogging after my father passed away in January.  It's been a tough, tough year.  I quite honestly, didn't feel like anything was interesting, witty or funny, and didn't feel like writing.   Between teaching, working on the estate, and just life in general, I was exhausted.

However, my number one reader of my blog (my Mother) asked if I'd start it up again.  I went out to Southern California to visit her for two weeks, right after school got out, and it was well worth it.  Time with her, time to decompress, time to think.  And one thing she said was she missed hearing about my kids and all the silly things that go along with teaching.

And I got to thinking that it's been enough time.  The estate business isn't done yet (I'm shooting for December), and I have a lot more to do. But it's summer now, and although I just finished a week of in-service, and have a week of summer camp, it's starting to look light there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

So, it's Father's Day - my first one without my Father - and I thought I'd come back and visit all of you and say hi.  I'm listening to the College World Series in the background, and he'd appreciate that.  He did love baseball so.

So for all the Fathers out there - bless you.  And for all of you who still have your father, please take time every single day - not just Father's Day - to appreciate the gift you have.

I think I'm kinda glad to be back.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Heart's Just Not In It


It's not been a good year for the Bluebird family, which is why I haven't posted much.  Truth be told, my heart just isn't in it.

We lost a good friend to a heart attack (he was only 42) in January.

That was hard enough, but then, three days later, my beloved Daddy Bird passed away suddenly.

As you can imagine, it has been quite a blow to Mr. Bluebird and I and we have had our hands full with the funeral, getting his house gone through, and I am acting as executor of his estate.  The fact that I have always been a Daddy's Girl, makes this even harder.  My father and I were best of friends as well, something that not everyone, sadly, experiences with their parents.  So, Mr. Bluebird (who is awesome and is my rock) and I have been driving back and forth to where Daddy Bird lived (three hours away) to get things taken care of.

Taking care of an estate is a second full-time job, I've decided.

Fortunately, The Principal is an angel and is letting me have as much time off as I need.  However, the thought of leaving my kids with a sub for too long is somewhat daunting.  And truly, I kind of need to see my kids.  They have been a lot of comfort for me these past few weeks.

So, I'm not feeling funny, or witty, or particularly motivated to blog.

I'm just missing the best Daddy a girl could ever have.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Popsicles Anyone?

It's that time of year when you feel like you have to have a bit of flexibility in your plans because you never know what the weather will be like, and how that will impact your day.

For example, a little over a week ago we had a fire drill because it was 70 degrees outside. That was a Friday. That following Monday we had a two hour delay due to ice. Tuesday we had a two hour delay, then an early dismissal, due to ice. And Wednesday we didn't even go at all, due to ice.

So, I tossed away a few activities we had planned simply because we had run out of time. It's not ideal, but that's the way it goes.

I just hope we don't end up having a lot of cancellations like we did a few years ago. We ended up adding 30 minutes to the school day to make it up.

No one liked that.

Monday, January 14, 2013

If it's 70, and January, it's a Fire Drill Day

There are certain things you can almost bank on when it comes to predictability.

For one, if it's January or February, and the day is clear and unseasonably warm, we'll have a fire drill.  We're required to have one a month, and trust me, it's much nicer to have one when the weather is nice than it is when it's stupidly cold and rainy or snowy.

So, Friday, last period of the day, we had a fire drill.

Which was fine with me as it was nice out and the kids were bouncing off the walls anyway.

And today?  Well, it was 25 this morning and never got about 30.

Good thing we didn't do the fire drill today!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

When Technology Bites Back

It has been a day.

We had our Learning Links math test, an on-line test, scheduled for the first two periods of the day today. This means that every seventh grader had a laptop and was trying to access the network at the same time everyone was trying to send in attendance and get the day going. Well, with nearly 400 kids, that's a lot of activity on our network. Many kids had to be patient, a challenge for most seventh graders, and kept trying until they finally got online. I finally gave up and simply walked my attendance up to the front office.

For the record, listening to 30 kids fuss about computer issues can fray nearly anyone's nerves.

After much fussing and trouble-shooting, all my kids finally got online and got their test finished before third period arrived. Mrs Social Studies wasn't so lucky. She had kids that couldn't get on for nearly an hour so her kids had to take their laptops to another room to finish, under the supervision of someone from guidance, while the rest of the kids went to class.

And that wasn't the end of the craziness.

We were about two thirds of the way through third period when the building lost power. This usually happens once or twice a year, usually when the weather is bad, and after a few minutes we get power back. Today it was simply rainy and drizzly, so the weather wasn't an issue.

And it took nearly two hours before we had power.

I know we had it easier than the PE department did, what with 200 kids in the dark in the gym, but goodness it got old really quick being stuck in the room in the dark with my third period.

I did have the emergency lights working in my room, so we could at least see a little bit. In fact, I did have the kids take their quiz by writing the three questions on the whiteboard directly below the emergency lights, rather than put it on the document reader. They were not wild about that, but hey we were still in class and at that point I thought the lights were going to come back on shortly.

After a while however, it became apparent that this was going to take a while. And then the whining began. First they all had to go to the bathroom, so Mrs. Social Studies took the boys and I took the girls and we walked them to the bathrooms. The girls at least had an emergency light in their bathroom, but the boys were faced with pitch black. At this point we suggested they use their cell phones as flashlights.

After that adventure we went back to the dark classroom and tried to keep them somewhat quiet. Which was a challenge. They kept asking if they were going to get to go home. There were a few I would have gladly sent home by this point. Then, when the clocked ticked past our usual lunch time, the cries of hunger started up.

Good gracious. I found a box of graham crackers left over from a lab we did this fall and had just enough to give each kid half a cracker. Surprisingly that settled them down somewhat.

Finally, after just a little over two hours, the power came back on. We completely skipped fourth period, and sent the kids to fifth period, used part of fifth and sixth for lunch, and finallyhad a normal seventh period.

And those kids who didn't finish the online math test? Some were still working when we lost power. And they'll have to start over and take it again, poor kids!

So glad tomorrow is a Friday.